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Cool Teens Ditch School to Protest Trump

"We didn't have any choice in this election; we want a voice to speak out for what we want and think."
Photos by Linda Yang

On Tuesday, hundreds of New York City students staged a school walkout to protest Donald Trump, the proposed Muslim ban, and overall "bigotry, hatred, and prejudice."

The mass walkout was organized by Hebh Jamal, a 17-year-old Bronx high schooler and activist. While intended to include both high school and college-aged students, the majority of the protesters in attendance were still in high school. These students, the majority of whom found themselves ineligible to vote in November, are now taking to the streets to make their voices heard.


"We didn't have any choice in this election; we want a voice to speak out for what we want and think," said Yvette, a high school sophomore.

Most of the student activists Broadly spoke with said they heard about the protest through social media. "I RSVP'd on Facebook," said Nola, a sophomore from New Jersey, who further explained, "Facebook is for politics and Instagram is more for memes."

Another group of students shared that they learned about the protest from school administrators. "Our principal emailed us saying, 'We won't suspend you if you go [to the protest], but please don't,'" said Max, a high school senior. "Of course, we had to come."

Others still faced threat of suspension or another form of penalization from their school. "But, because half the school left, it's going to be hard to suspend all of us," said Ava, a sophomore.

Many of teenagers had their parents' support to attend the rally, but others decided not to text their parents until they got to the protest. "They can't make me not go if I'm already here," said Sarah, a high school freshman.

"They don't know I'm here but they're usually chill," said Max, a high school sophomore.

We weren't able to vote but we are able to come out to the streets.

Among the crowd were signs addressing issues around LGBT equality, reproductive rights, Black Lives Matter, and the Dakota Access Pipeline. A central issue discussed by organizers of the Women's March in January, which unified millions around the globe, was intersectionality. Rosa, a high school sophomore, explained that "intersectionality" and "intersectional feminism" are more than buzzwords to her and her cohort. "We care about everybody," she said. "We're out here for immigrants, refugees, LGBT people—anyone."


At the protest, New York Police Department gates fenced off the protest's makeshift stage, where Hebh Jamal, the organizer of the walkout, spoke against the proposed Muslim ban and urged students to continue in their protest. Jamal shared the stage with other organizers, such as Letitia James from Public Advocate, who also called on the students to continue in their activism, reminding them that the great protests of the past were organized and filled by young people.

Three high school sophomores, Sanjeeb, Liam, and Harris worked security by the stage, checking press passes and denying entry to any unruly teens. "We got here early and saw that anyone could get to the stage," said Sanjeeb. "No one else was doing anything about it, so here we are."

"I think it's important that we make sure everyone knows that we're here," said Liam. "We weren't able to vote but we are able to come out to the streets."